Police Commission Lobbies Legislators

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Members of the Police Commission unanimously signed a letter to Weston’s state legislators, urging action on a number of matters that affect policing and community safety.

“We want to make sure they know what’s important to us,” said Commissioner David Muller. “It’s about raising awareness of what works best for both Weston Police and the community as a whole.”

Staffing challenges

One of the major concerns expressed in the letter is a looming change in retirement benefits for police officers, a three-year phase-out that begins next year of the minimum cost of living adjustment currently guaranteed to retired officers.

The concern is that the change may induce at least four or five Weston officers to retire before the phase-out goes into effect, which would come at a time that the pool of well-qualified candidates has shrunk.

The benefit change was part of a comprehensive overhaul of CMERS, the Connecticut Municipal Employees Retirement System, that the legislature enacted in 2023 to relieve the system’s financial distress.


While acknowledging “well-intentioned … nationwide concerns about excesses in several police departments,” the commissioners note in their letter that elements of the Police Accountability Act passed in 2020 place a burden on small police departments in small towns.

“We’re not saying the changes are not needed,” said Mr. Muller. “We’re saying there needs to be a distinction for the size of a town.”

As examples, he pointed to new accreditation requirements for facilities, equipment, training and policies that small towns are not equipped to handle or that incur great unreimbursed cost.

Juvenile offenders

Following a recent spate of vehicle thefts here and in the region, “our community has expressed disappointment with the inability to hold repeat offenders accountable,” wrote the commissioners.

Years ago, Connecticut raised the age of criminal responsibility to 18. At the time, the state was one of only three in the country that charged 16 and 17 year-olds as adults, regardless of their offense.

Since that change, instead of entering the criminal justice system, younger offenders are placed in a behavioral health program or, as in this area, a juvenile review board. (Serious crimes such as murder or other felonies can trigger a transfer to adult court when “in the best interests of the child and the public.”)

While the juvenile review board process is widely viewed as working well, including by police, nothing triggers stricter measures for youths who repeatedly commit less serious offenses.

The commissioners also urged legislators to push for continued state funding of the regional Motor Vehicle Task Force.

Other matters

The commissioners expressed strong support for Weston’s School Resource Officers and said they would “stand firmly against any efforts to legislate changes to the program.”

They said they are “mindful of abuses” of the Freedom of Information Act by individuals who “weaponize the Act to request voluminous amounts of information from public officials,” noting times that police officers must be pulled off duty to copy not only documents, but also dashboard and body camera recordings.

They said they support a proposal to “implement a fee for excessive requests for copies under FOIA beyond an agreed acceptable number of work hours.”

Finally, commissioners said they are “particularly concerned” about reports that artificial intelligence image generators are being “trained on explicit photos of children,” and wondered if discussions were taking place at the state level.

Legislation is being prepared for consideration in the General Assembly’s short session, now underway, to criminalize nonconsensual AI-generated sexual material and deep fakes.

The bill, at the moment more concept than draft, also contemplates providing workforce training on the use of AI and mandating that companies prevent AI being used in a way that discriminates.

All of this would have to develop with speed. The short session ends in early May.

The commission’s letter was signed by all members: chair Beth Gralnick, vice chair Peter Ottomano, and members Woody Bliss, John Dembishack, Dawn Egan, Frank Ferrara, and David Muller.

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